Pro-Democracy movements in the Arab World
On The Monitor this week:
- Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
- The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian
More about this week’s guests:
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria
You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.
Edward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here
The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).
During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.
On The Monitor this week:
- A Muslim perspective on secularism and governance – an interview with Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
- The “Militant Wahabism” of al-Shabab, the Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy – an interview with Abdi Ismail Samatar
More about this week’s guests:
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na’im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:
- Women and Land in Africa
- Islamic Family Law
- Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
- The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State
These projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na’im’s professional website »
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.
Abdi Ismail Samatar (from Somalia) is Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, a research fellow at the University of Pretoria, and member of African Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular. He is currently looking at the the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other themes in his research include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development.
Quote: “The brutality of al-Shabab is simply staggering. Its latest atrocity is the outright killing of over 100 students at Garissa University [in Kenya]. But what people also need to understand is the insidiousness of the Kenyan government and it’s actions in Somalia, which al-Shabab uses as a pretext to rally people in Somalia. If Kenya and the international community are serious about defeating al-Shabaab it can only be done by well resourced professional Somali security forces. The international community has failed to help Somalis build such a force. In addition Kenya and Ethiopia must withdraw their troops from Somalia as well as their efforts to gerrymander politics in that country by supporting certain factions in Somalia. The regime in Mogadishu is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent and can not galvanize the Somali people. The international community, including Africans, have been not only oblivious to the plight of the Somali people, but have turned them into a disposable political football since the collapse of their state in 1991. For years the world watched warlord terrorists rape, loot and kill Somalis with impunity. The U.S. actually backed the warlords against the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), which was trying to bring some stability to the country. In 2005, the UIC defeated the warlords and created peace in Mogadishu for the first time in years and without any help from the international community. Rather than engaging with the UIC, the U.S. and its African clients considered them as terrorists and Ethiopia was given the green light to invade and dismantle it. Ethiopian forces took over Mogadishu on December 25, 2006, and the prospect of a peaceful resurrection of Somalia perished. The brutality of the Ethiopian occupation has been documented by human rights groups. Resisting the Ethiopian occupation became the rallying cry for all Somalis. Some of the toughest challengers of the Ethiopian war machine were segments of the UIC militia known as al-Shabab. Their valour endeared them to many Somalis and this marked the birth of al-Shabab as we know it today. Had the international community and particularly the West productively engaged the UIC, I am confident that al-Shabab would have remained an insignificant element of a bigger nationalist movement. Kenya’s original rationale for invading Somalia was to protect its citizens and tourist-based economy from al-Shabab’s predations. For many this argument seemed reasonable as al-Shabab was accused of kidnapping several expatriates from Kenya. According to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, there were credible reports that the Kenyan government had planned on gaining a strong sphere of influence in the lower region of Somalia long before the al-Shabab-affiliated incidents.”
Background: Samatar’s piece “The Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy.” The New York Times reported last week: “Kenyan fighter jets bombed two training camps of the Shabab militant group in Somalia, defense officials said on Monday, the first military response to the attack on a university last week that killed nearly 150 students. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, had vowed to respond ‘in the severest way possible’ to the massacre at the university. Military officials said it was difficult to assess the damage because of heavy cloud cover. Kenya has carried out bombing raids in Somalia after terrorist assaults in the past, and the Shabab militants, knowing what was coming, have often abandoned their camps after major attacks.”
As ‘diplomacy’ breaks out at the UN over the issue of chemical weapons, The Monitor looks at the resolution on Syria and the hypocrisy and politics of how resolutions created and international actions are taken. Our first guest is Matthew Lee from Inner City Press who will walk us through the Syria resolution and how it was crafted. Our second guest is Maurice Carney from Friends of the Congo who will give us some insight into the conflict in the Congo and how it serves as an example of the failure of the UN process and illuminates the choices made by powerful countries about the fates of weaker countries.
More about this week’s guests:
Matthew Lee covers the UN for Inner City Press. He questioned U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and other officials at the UN on September 26th about the resolution on Syria and wrote several pieces on events there. He has extensively covered procedures at the UN, including how most of the 15 members of the Security Council have been marginalized in the process.
Quote: “While the resolution agreed to by the U.S. and Russia says the U.S. would have come back to the Security Council to argue that Syria had not complied and seek enforcement under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, already it is being argued that military action could flow from any claimed breach.” Meanwhile, France on Thursday hosted Saudi-sponsored Ahmad al-Jarba inside the UN, claiming he’s the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But who gets to decide that? Yesterday John Kerry called Jarba’s group “the legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. Full comment: “President Jarba understands that Syria can have a different future. And he understands that Syria can be a nation defined not by this kind of chaos and personal ambition and recklessness, but defined by its rich history of diversity – not by the forces that are content to destroy them. And through our close partnership with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the legitimate representative, we believe, of the Syrian people, we can lay the foundation for a peaceful Syria where all Syrians have a say and a shape in a shared future.”
Maurice Carney is the Executive Director of Friends of the Congo. He is an independent entrepreneur and human rights activist who has fought with Congolese for fifteen years in their struggle for human dignity and control of their country. He has worked as a research analyst at the nation’s leading Black think tank the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. While at the Joint Center, Mr. Carney worked with civic associations in West Africa providing training on research methodology and survey. He served as the interim Africa working group coordinator for Reverend Jesse Jackson while he was Special Envoy to Africa. Mr. Carney also worked as a research consultant to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation addressing issues such as the socio-politcal condition of African American communities.
Quote: “Earlier this year in an interview with the New Republic, when asked about U.S. intervention in Syria, President Obama retorted how does he weigh ‘tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo? The United Nations says the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the deadliest in the world since World War II, where millions have perished since 1996. Yet the response from the U.S. and the UN has been anything but commensurate to the scale of the tragedy, primarily because U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda are implicated in the Congo conflict. Both countries have waged a 17-year war of aggression against the Congo by invading twice (1996 and 1998), fighting each other on Congolese soil and sponsoring militia groups inside the Congo. Rwanda and Uganda have been able to escape UN sanctions and significant global pressure in large part due to diplomatic and political cover from the United States. Even though President Obama as Senator passed a bill into law (Public Law 109-456) in 2006 that authorizes the U.S. Secretary of State to hold Congo’s neighbors accountable for destabilizing the Congo, the Obama Administration has yet to fully implement its own law, which could advance peace in the Congo and save innocent lives.”
On this week’s show we look at the Confidential Memo at the heart of the Global Financial Crisis with Greg Palast and how the Egyptian media is covering events in Egypt with Noha Radwan
More about our guests:
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires and Ballot Bandits , Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. government’s largest racketeering case in history–winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Palast set off on a five-continent undercover investigation of BP and the oil industry for British television’s top current affairs program, Dispatches.
Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. government’s largest racketeering case in history–winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Palast set off on a five-continent undercover investigation of BP and the oil industry for British television’s top current affairs program, Dispatches.
Noha Radwan is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature Ph.D., UC Berkeley.
Prof. Radwan’s interests include modern Middle Eastern literature in Arabic and Hebrew and postcolonial literature in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Her Book manuscript about modern Egyptian poetry in the colloquial language, Shi’r al-‘ammiyya and Modernism in Arabic Poetry, is currently under review.
“Egypt is going through one of the bleakest moments of its modern history. Despite the paucity of accurate reporting on the attacks against the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins on Wednesday, there is enough evidence that these attacks must be condemned in the strongest of words. Although [ousted president Mohammed] Morsi’s supporters are not exactly non-violent it is clear the police is using a barbaric amount of excessive force. Yet the tragedy runs deeper. Wednesday was not only a dreadful day of killing and violence. It was the tragic and shameful culmination of a long process of polarizing the Egyptian masses between full support for the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and uncompromising opposition to it. For the past three weeks media sources on the ground, whether they are the governmental or the independent channels (On TV, CBC [Capital Broadcasting Center] and al-Nahar) or the Qatari al-Jazeera have been working the public into nothing short of a mass hysteria. The state media labels the Islamists ‘terrorists’ while the Islamists denigrate all support for the current regime as ‘fascism’. Every media source in Egypt is lying, spreading hearsay, and dismissing reports that do not serve their agendas. The result is a frenzied and divided population that is proving uncharacteristically callous to the bloodshed among one group or the other. There is no doubt that it would have been better for President Morsi to have been voted out and not ousted by the military, but it is debatable whether there was a potential for this option. It is also debatable whether his failures during his year in office are enough excuse for the Egyptian ‘liberals’ and ‘revolutionaries’ to strike an alliance with the military, an alliance that was inconceivable to them a little more than one year ago.”
The Monitor this week takes an in depth look at personal data security and events in Egypt.
- What We Don’t Know About Spying on Citizens: Scarier Than What We Know – An interview with Bruce Schneier
- American Eyewitness in Egypt – An interview with Darryl John Kennedy
More about this week’s guests:
Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, called a “security guru” by The Economist. He is the author of 12 books — including Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Survive — as well as hundreds of articles, essays, and academic papers. His influential newsletter “Crypto-Gram” and his blog “Schneier on Security” are read by over 250,000 people. He has testified before Congress, is a frequent guest on television and radio, has served on several government committees, and is regularly quoted in the press. Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, a program fellow at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Advisory Board Member of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Security Futurologist for BT — formerly British Telecom.
Darryl John Kennedy
Darryl John Kennedy an American film composer and multiinstrumentalist, who performs in concerts and recordings throughout the world. He plays professionally 16 instruments, and has produced 125 CDs for artists in musical styles, ranging from classical to Hip-Hop. Darryl has traveled to over 50 countries as an independent cultural ambassador, demonstrating how Americans can be effective leaders in public diplomacy. Darryl recently spoke at the United Nations with the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy about his successful experiences in Egypt. Before the revolution in Egypt, Darryl had been utilizing his approach in Cairo. He was the only American ever asked to compose the soundtrack for two Egyptian motion pictures. He also performed as guest artist in 16 concerts including one for 12,000 people. He produced five music CDs, was guest speaker at the American University of Cairo, and was the first American to co-star in an Arabic music video with an audience of 55 million. He did all of this without any record label promotion, Washington political or NGO support, and no local contacts when he first arrived in the country.
On this week’s show:
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled in 2011 that the NSA’s program is illegal. We talk with Mark Rumold about the possible release of that opinion, which, as you may expect, is secret.
- Dirty Wars hits the big screen in Houston and around the country. We talk with film’s director, Richard Rowley
More about this week’s guests:
Mark Rumold is a staff attorney at EFF, working primarily on the FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project. His legal interests include the First Amendment, information privacy, and the ways technology can improve how we structure government. He received his law degree from Boalt Hall and his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. In his spare time, Mark likes doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, cheering for disappointing sports teams, and traveling.
Richard Rowley director, cinematographer, editor. Over the course of fifteen years, Richard Rowley, co-founder of Big Noise Films, has made multiple award-winning documentary features including Fourth World War and This Is What Democracy Looks Like. His shorts and news reports are also regularly featured on and commissioned by leading outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CBC, CNN International, Democracy Now!, and PBS. Rowley is a co-founder of the Independent Media Center. Rowley has been a Pulitzer Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow, a Jerome Foundation Fellow, and a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow.
On the show this week:
- Court Rules Against Detention; Congress Doubles Down on Government Spying – an interview with Marjorie Cohn
- The anniversary of the Occupy Movement and the events at US Embassies and consulates in the Middle East – an interview with Stephen Zunes
More about our guests:
Marjorie Cohn is Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Cohn is also the author of “The United States and Torture.”
Quote: “Just as the House voted to extend the FISA Amendments Act, that strengthens the government’s ability to spy on us, a federal judge permanently blocked enforcement of the section of the National Defense Authorization Act that permits indefinite detention. The Obama administration has followed the Bush practice of indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without charges. But the NDAA expands the group to include not just those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks, but also anyone who is part of, or substantially supports, Al Qaeda, the Taliban or other forces engaged in hostilities against the United States or its allies. Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled that the provision is ‘unconstitutionally overbroad’ because it ‘purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities,’ and it also violates the Fifth Amendment. This is an example of the judicial branch fulfilling its constitutional duty to check and balance overreaching by the other branches of government.”
Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes received his PhD. from Cornell University, his M.A. from Temple University and his B.A. from Oberlin College. We talk to Stephen about his two most recent articles.
The first, posted on the home page of CNN.com, examines the impact of the Occupy movement on its first anniversary: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/17/opinion/zunes-occupy-movement/index.html?hpt=hp_c1
The second, from Foreign Policy in Focus, looks at the attack on the Benghazi consulate and other anti-American protests in the Middle East in the context of U.S. policy in the region: http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_middle_east_unrest_in_context